Putting: Great Knowledge

Scott Sackett
Director of Instruction
McCormick Ranch Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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While being at the PGA Show this week in Orlando (January 20-26), and attending the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit (January 21-22) for two days, I have had the opportunity to listen to many great speakers on many great subjects. I had the opportunity to watch Dave Stockton’s presentation along with watching Michael Breed’s presentation on putting. These two presentations could not have been any more different from each other. Mr. Stockton talked mainly on what the back of the left wrist does through the stroke, along with why he thinks it is important not to take a practice swing, while Michael talks about how important it is to get the ball rolling immediately off the putter face at impact. He feels the quicker you get the ball rolling the better chance you have of keeping the ball on line. Especially on short putts.

The one common denominator they both had is the importance of a good set up. That is what I am going to discuss with you. As with all areas of the game, developing a consistent putting stroke affords you the greatest opportunity to get the ball in the hole with the fewest stokes as possible.

There are a few things that you need to be concerned with while putting. Distance and Direction. Of these two, distance is FAR more important than direction. Since the cup is almost three times as wide as the ball, there is room for error in direction. Even with long putts, if you are consistent with your distance, your ball will end up somewhere near the hole.

“It’s important to understand that the ball position sets the shaft angle, shaft angle sets loft angle and the loft angle sets the ball in motion.”
– Scotty Cameron

Characteristics of Putting: • light grip pressure, around 3 • square stance feet parallel left • ball position forward in stance • weight slightly towards the hole • eyes over or slightly inside the ball • hands hang directly under shoulders • head stays very steady • allow the putter to swing on its natural arc • hands quiet throughout the stroke • backswing and follow-through approximately same length

FACT:  The optimum loft at impact is 4 degrees 
FACT:  The shaft should return at a 90 degree angle at impact

The Putting Grip: Similar to your full-swing grip, your hands need to work as a single unit when putting the ball. This similarity aside, I recommend that you grip the putter differently than your other golf club. The grip in the putting stroke is designed to “quiet” the hands. The most popular grip on tour is the reverse overlap as seen in the picture.    

The Stroke: If you ask 20 people how the putter should move back and through the ball, 18 would say, “Straight back and straight through”. In my opinion, the perfect putting path would not be “straight back and straight through”. Instead, it would travel back and through on an arc. The main objective while the stroke is in motion is to have the putter face stay square to the “putter path” instead of the “target line”. 

Scott Sackett, GOLF Magazine Top 100 Teacher since 1999, just voted as one of  Golf Digest’s Best Teacher in the State for the fifth year in a row. Also, Director of Instruction at Park Meadows CC in Park City, Utah and while in Scottsdale he teaches at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. If you would like to contact Scott, you can reach him at www.scottsackett.com.